I always say, ‘when I die, just dump my ashes out a car window, anywhere, because I’ve had the most joy and peace in my life driving, most of the time solo, on road trips. Due to the fiscal year ending at work, and the overall ‘choices,’ of places to go this year on vacation, I decided to just ‘go on a road trip.’ There was no specific destination. It was simply to be ‘away.’ I knew, more than anything, I needed to feel like I had ‘gone away.’ I wanted to be off the grid. So, with no fanfare at all, I literally packed a bag and got in my car last Thursday morning and just drove. The destination was south because there were ‘limitations,’ due to time and restrictions in other areas. This was perfect for me because many of my happiest memories in life occurred in the southeastern United States. There was no planning, no itinerary, very little packing. One thing that I struggle to do in my personal life that I talk about with my clients a lot (even though I struggle with it) is too ‘be void of expectation. For some reason, when I’m in the car, driving, on a road trip, there is not expectation. I am completely in my element. I am really in the moment. I had no expectation for the trip. In fact, there were a lot of things that could have completely ‘ruined’ the experience like the ‘super rainy weather in Tennessee, where I wanted to do some hiking, but it didn’t ruin the experience for me. I even arrived home a day early. Normally, this would be a sign that I ‘failed’ in some capacity, but it ‘just was.’ I was happy with the experience. I felt renewed and refreshed. There’s a line in a Ryan Adam’s song that says, ‘the sweetest winds, they blow across the South.’ I’ve always agreed. I’ve always been connected to the Southeast since I got assigned there for a job in my early 20’s. I was a northern guy up until then, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I went. The moment I arrived, it felt familiar. It’s the only place in my life where I always have this experience. It’s the most familiar place to me. I just love it. Once again, it refreshed me. Again, it’s so loaded with memories for me, it could have been a ‘challenging trip.’ I have not been back in years, and I could have been comparing the whole time. Instead, I was just in the moment. I was so glad to be back. I am sure many new poems will come of it when I am able to process the whole experience. Right now, I’m still living on the high of the whole experience. The poem I chose to share today is one of my oldest poems. I still love it as much as I did when I wrote it. I am shocked I haven’t shared it yet. I wrote this one before I even had my first car to drive on road trips. I would take the Greyhound places at that time. There was something magical about that experience too. I hope you enjoy it.
Houdini Towns Vanishing
Clamor of bells falling behind the bus.
After your death it was rainy,
bishops & ballerinas,
blue jean prophets, boulevard queens,
ghetto babies, already insomniacs, scream
throughout Kentucky into Tennessee.
She said, “My life is a diary,
On day it’ll rival Anne Franks.”
Then showed me four color pictures,
summer homes, with popsicle prose headaches inside.
pigtailed pregnant teens
Collapse onto the shoulders of unknown men,
who sit next to them, dirty in thought.
I count headlights, taillights, towns
with whispering wells crying your name.
A caterpillar, you are just caccooned temporarily,
you’ll surprise me in spring
in some off balance town with a Motel 6,
a city spent in poetic constipation.
Cigarettes at way stations introduce me
to the ripples on the surface of our society,
well read revolutionaries, heroin junkies,
pill popping beauty queens full of poetry.
We share razor scars, lights, and shoulders
in our search for the America
found only on Simon and Garfunkel records.
We are sinful, naked Jesus freaks,
nursing home convicts, euthanasia supporters,
Berkeley girls, suburban brothers,
riding the Greyhound as if it were the Mayflower. We’re
all counting miles, until we find,
the town over the river, through the hills,
a place called Virgin Town,
where at least we’ll have the chance
to say, “We lost it again.”